Webquests are inquiry-oriented units or lessons. They were new about ten years ago, but they should still be a part of your teaching repertoire. Students work independently or in groups to break down a task, use and evaluate resources online and create a work product. It is easy to make them fun and engaging activities, and the allowance for individual interest and exploration can be really motivating for many learners.
The key to an effective webquest is preparation. Since these can be pretty detailed processes, it makes sense to have more than one in an academic year. For your first, you will highly scaffold the process - include mini-lessons on features, complete parts of the quests together, review and analyze examples and non-examples of expectations, discuss templates and rubrics. By the time your students are completing a second or third, formatted similarly but on different topics, they will be more independent in the process and can explore their topic more deeply.
To make the most of this process, here are a few tips.
1) Lay out the process in advance with an introduction
Spend time introducing the entire webquest so students know the goals and expectations. Determine the length of your webquest and try to break it into lessons, steps or checkpoints before you share the process with the students. You should be able to lay out the entire process during your introduction, and each component should take you one step closer to the final product.
2) Make sure your final step is summative and reflective
The goal of a webquest isn't to answer prompts. Encourage self-reflection, evaluation on process or application of information to other topics studied. There may be some direct responses to pieces of the webquest, but the overall result should be in the top tier of Bloom's Taxonomy: Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation.
3) Select the resources and present them as part of the process
It's important for you to select the resources to be reviewed by the students. Webquests are not independent research papers. You can directly link students to specific sites for certain components of the webquest ("For the answers to #1-3, visit this site . . . ") or you can give students a larger body of work and jigsaw it so different students are working to find different components of the same source.
4) Choose a wide variety of resources
You don't have to send students to read articles. You can do so much with video and audio, and mix up primary and secondary resources. Finding another class' work on the same topic can also be helpful and interesting for your students. Allow students to engage in and interact with the sources they are selecting and be sure to appeal to all modalities and types of learners.
5) Insert your usual classroom procedures into the process
A webquest is ultimately an assignment, and if you have specific expectations for your classwork, make sure they are present in this process. If you value peer review, incorporate a step that requires students to evaluate each other's work. If your students use a specific format for citing resources, make sure there's a place for students to include these citations. For teachers who rely on online classrooms or digital assignment books, have turn ins and checkpoints be part of your class wiki or wall. Make these usual and consistent classroom features a part of the process to make the project more familiar and reinforce those skills as well.
6) Formalize the process, and reuse it
If you are going to put the work into a webquest, which you should because it is definitely worth it, try to find a format and structure that you like. It will help the students to become familiar with the process and it will help you to be able to replace sites, topics or expectations into consistent rubrics and assignments.
For more information on webquests, this Thirteen.org link is a decade old, but a great start!